The defending champion Suzanne Birt rink, playing out of the host Montague Curling Rink, and the Bryan Cochrane team from Cornwall captured the first of three modified triple knockout qualifying games at the Scotties provincial women’s and Tankard provincial men’s championships, respectively Thursday evening.
The 7 pm draw featured three very close games decided by a single point, and one not-so-close one, with Cochrane and his team of Island natives Ian MacAulay and Morgan Currie, along with ten-time PEI Tankard winner Mark O’Rourke in the lead position, needing only eight ends to beat Charlottetown’s Eddie MacKenzie rink by an 8-1 score, stealing a pair of singles, a triple and another single to lead 6-0 after four ends. MacKenzie’s loan single came just before the 5th end break, but another pair of Cochrane singles in ends 7 and 8 brought the game to handshakes.
Birt’s game against Veronica Smith and her Silver Fox rink was very evenly matched, with Birt leading 2-1 after a low-scoring first five ends. Smith pulled ahead with a sixth-end deuce, but Birt took a pair in the seventh to regain the lead. Smith tied the game with a single in the eighth, but Birt’s ninth end deuce gave her a two-point lead coming home without last rock advantage. Smith was kept to a single in ten, with Birt winning the “A” final by a 6-5 score.
In Tankard “B” section games, Charlottetown’s Philip Gorveatt edged Cornwall’s John Likely 5-4, while Cornwall’s Steve vanOuwerkerk got by the Darren Higgins rink from the Fox by a 6-5 score.
With the modified triple-knockout format, the top teams in a section also drop down to compete in the next section. If ten-time PEI Scotties winner Birt, or Cochrane, who is the reigning World Senior Men’s champion, were to capture all three sections, they would win the event without the Sunday championship round being played, If a team were to win two sections, they would have a “double life” in the championship round and take their respective championship with a win in either game, while their opponent, the winner of the other section, would have to win both,
In the Tankard, Gorveatt now faces Cochrane, and MacKenzie takes on vanOuwerkerk in B section semi-finals at 2 pm Friday, with the winners advancing to the 7 pm “B” final. On the Scotties side, Smith plays Melissa Morrow and her Silver Fox team at 2 pm, with the winner facing Birt in the “B” final at 7 pm Friday. Morrow got by Tammy Dewar and her host club team 7-6 in an extra end on Thursday afternoon to advance to the “B” semi-final.
Friday morning 9 am play features “C” division games. The “C” finals are Saturday at 7 pm.
The championship round games, if needed, go Sunday at 9 am and, if necessary, 2 pm.
There is no admission charge to watch this combined event, with the women’s championship sponsored by Kruger Products, Canada’s #1 tissue products manufacturer and the longest national corporate sponsor of amateur sport in Canada, along with local event sponsors O’Connor Glass, Tim Hortons, and Bogside Brewing. 50/50 draws will be held, with proceeds going toward the Montague Junior Curling Program.
The kitchen will be open for lunch (soup or chili and sandwiches) and supper (regular menu). Food and beverages are also available at the Bogside brewery, only a three-minute walk from the club, and at Tim Hortons, just a six-minute walk away.
Live end-by-end results are available at: PEICurling.com/scoreboard
The winning women’s team will advance to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Feb. 15-23, 2020 at
Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, while the men’s championship team will compete in the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier, Feb. 29 to March 8, 2020 at Leon’s Centre in Kingston Ontario.